We happily seek and energetically follow most restaurant or bar recommendations that come our way, but for some reason we resisted Le Diplomate. The hype was a bit too strong, almost to the point of being pushy. Plus, there was something just a little too picture perfect to it. So much energy was going into it looking like a genuine French cafe, that we felt the reality of it had to fall short. So, we resisted. Then Columbus Day came along. One of us gets Columbus Day off, and the other doesn’t. We felt like a good way to celebrate the half-holiday was to enjoy brunch together, but it had to be near enough to the office for the one of us who was working. Le Diplomate was the best option.
We have to admit that we’re glad circumstances finally maneuvered us into giving it a try. There is indeed more than a little of the play-act about Le Diplomate; it’s a two year old restaurant in DC that pretends to be a seventy-five year old Parisian Cafe. But it plays the part so well, we found ourselves happy to play along. Sitting on the purposely somewhat janky plastic furniture on the large patio on a sunny afternoon, it was easy to imagine ourselves transported to Le Marais. It didn’t hurt that the food was delicious. We especially enjoyed the Poached Eggs Basquaise.
And as an extra special bonus, the cocktails were also quite good, something it would be rarer to find at an actual Parisian Cafe. It being a work day for one of us, we chose two light and refreshing options.
What We Ordered
Le Jardin Secret: silver rum, green Chartreuse, house-made pineapple-saffron soda
Demure: gin, St. Germain, creme de mure, lemon, blackberry, mint
What We Thought
Both of these drinks were made to please. The base spirits played a supporting role, letting what would usually be secondary ingredients take the starring roles. Even they played it subtle, though. Le Jardin Secret had enough saffron and Chartreuse to make it decidedly herbal and to keep things interesting, but no so much that it would overwhelm. And the rich, dark berry flavor in Demure was kept in balance by just the right amount of lemon and mint.
Demure Cocktail Recipe
- 3/4 oz gin
- 3/4 oz St. Germain
- 1/4 oz creme de mure (blackberry liqueur)
- 1/4 oz lemon juice
- 1 sprig mint, plus one more leaf for garnish
- 1 blackberry for the drink, plus one more for garnish
- Muddle the mint and blackberry gently in a mixing glass.
- Add other ingredients and shake.
- Strain into an ice-filled old fashioned glass.